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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: Der Fall des Hindenburg
By T. F. Chezum


The glow from the setting sun cast eerie red streaks through the smoke shrouded field. Flames leapt skyward in dazzling yellow and orange turbulence.

The atmosphere, once filled with the excitement of families and business men gathering to witness the great spectacle, without warning became a surreal calamity. The zeppelin, the Hindenburg fell from the sky in a brilliant ball of fire.

Chaos erupted.

Lord, please. My disoriented thoughts scrambled out of control. I’ve got to help them. I ran toward the mass of twisted metal settling to the ground; a pillar of black smoke towered over the frightened crew and passengers. Give them strength, Lord ... Give me strength.

The stench of burning fuel and flesh overwhelmed my senses. I ran toward the wreckage.

“Helfen Sie ihnen.” A crewmember yelled. “Sie sind auf feuer.” He dragged the lifeless body of a crewmate away from the blaze.

The pandemonium spread.

Bodies of the dead and the injured lay scattered across the ground. The creaking of the melting steel drowned out their pleas for help.

Oh my Lord. I ran amongst the panicked survivors. “Go! Run!” I yelled, gesturing to the frightened crowd. “Get out of here.” I continued into the carnage.

The stifling heat intensified.

The smoke and ash burned my lungs and eyes. I winced, turning away from the tragedy. I can’t give up. I pressed forward, disregarding my own peril. “Are you okay?” I grabbed a victim by the shoulders.

“My arm.” He gasped. “I hurt my arm.” He clutched the injured appendage near his body; the burns and abrasions showing through his tattered shirt.

“Get to safety.” I pointed to the outskirts of the field.

A hand grabbed my ankle. “Helfen Sie mir bitte.” The man’s voice trembled. “Bin ich Gehen zu sterben?”

“I…I’m sorry.” I knelt beside him. “I don’t understand.”

Blazing embers rained down upon the mooring pad like a fourth of July spectacular.

Charred and blistered skin ravaged the man’s body; his clothes torn and burnt off him. The smell of singed hair permeated the air. I could not keep myself from staring. My Lord. How can I help this man?

“Not goot, I speak you language.” He grimaced with every movement. “Will I die?”

The commotion faded from my conscious thoughts. I stared with disbelief. How can he endure this … How can you let him suffer? I did not touch him, fearing I would cause greater pain. “Be still. I’ll get help.”

“Stay, please.” He extended his hand toward me, crying in agony. “You give this my wife?” He opened his fingers. A tiny crucifix lay on his palm.

“You…?” Stunned, I retrieved the amulet from his hand. “You believe?… In God?”

He nodded.

I wept.

The twisted frame of the dirigible glowed against the ever darkening sky. I gazed skyward. The black column of smoke reached into the night. Dear Lord, I am helpless. What do you want me to do? Tears flowed down my cheeks, caking with the soot on my face.

The man grasped my hand.

I looked into his eyes. “Can I pray with you?”

“Please.” He squeezed his swollen eyes shut. “Mein lieber Herr,” he uttered. “Trösten Sie die Verletzung und der Sterben.” His voice wavered. “The suffering please find comfort.”

I was unable to speak. How can he pray for others in his time of need?

His body trembled; his grip released.

I sobbed.

A hand grabbed my shoulder. “Another survivor?”

I shook my head. “No, he’s gone home.”

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This article has been read 1054 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 05/10/07
I wish I knew the German of my forefathers. But language barrier notwithstanding, the emotion and your excellent description was clearly understood. Great lesson taught. Well done.
Maxx .05/11/07
Very strong. Very good! One of the best.
dub W05/11/07
Yeah, this is better than good. Thanks.
Loren T. Lowery05/11/07
Historical insights into human feelings, beliefs and humanity at its best. What a startling, creative piece - wonderful.
Joanne Sher 05/13/07
Wonderful, wonderful description - so vivid. I was right there. This one definitely choked me up. What a testimony. Excellent.
Cassie Memmer05/14/07
Wow! If we were all like the dying man, it would be a different world. This is very creative. I could envision this man moving around the bodies, helping people. Very good writing. It touches the reader.
Sandra Petersen 05/14/07
Wow! This is powerful! I remember in history class hearing the old radio announcements of that day in history and even seeing a photograph or old newsreel, but you brought the whole thing to life.

Great description put me right there on the field among the pandemonium. Great ending, too.
Jan Ackerson 05/14/07
Very good! You put us right in a huge moment of history, but told one tiny little story--a masterful achievement.
Kaylee Blake 05/14/07
AWESOME! I must admit I was attracted to this piece because it was in German. (I took 2 college courses in German...) This was very well-written. Descriptive, but not gory, like I'm sure the actual event was. Keep up the great work!
Jeffrey Snell05/14/07
Atmospheric and tangible. Nicely done.
Betty Castleberry05/14/07
This carried me along every step of the way. The descriptions were great. Powerful messge, too.
Benjamin Graber05/14/07
The level of detail you put into this is amazing. Excellent job!
Julie Arduini05/15/07
The first line sets the tone for what a fantastic piece this is. I have chills.
Rita Garcia05/15/07
Beyond Good...your writing really shines this week...as usual!!!
Mariane Holbrook 05/15/07
This is a masterpiece. If this doesnt win big time, I'll eat my hat. LOL
LaNaye Perkins05/16/07
This was written so well. You did an awesome job of bringing it to life!
Sara Harricharan 05/16/07
This gave me goosebumps and made me want to cry with those last two lines. Very powerful. Well done.
Marilee Alvey05/17/07
Wow! What realism with the German language intejected. The story of the Hindenburg always moved me. I thought of writing about it. Glad I didn't! You've done a masterful job with it, Tim, bringing the tragedy down to a personal level. I felt like I was there with them. I could feel the heat on my face, smell burning flesh and the helpless feeling of not knowing where to go next. This was a well deserved win!
Sara Harricharan 05/17/07
Purity Snowe05/17/07
This one soooo rocked. I'm totally not surprised! Congrats! :-)
Rita Garcia05/17/07
Congratulations, I had a feeling this one would shine in the winners circle.
Catrina Bradley 05/17/07
Nicely done, Tim! A well deserved CONGRATS on your EC.
Val Clark05/17/07
A fast paced, powerful story. Congrats, Tim. Yeggy
Edy T Johnson 05/18/07
Congratulations on a well-deserved win; your description of the brief but intense relationship between the two characters has to be the most moving of all the wonderful stories written for this genre, here. So touching, I wept.
Anne Warden10/24/11
Compassion and the common ground of faith transcend ALL language barriers. Beautiful story. I'm sitting here with tears streaming from my eyes.

Thank you for showing us with a few words that any efforts walked in Christ's footsteps, no matter how small we may think they are, bring huge blessings to the people we touch. Then the blessings come back to us because we have touched.